Comment

Ask the expert: legal advice

A four-year-old patient has asked me whether Father Christmas exists. His parents say he believes in him but he has been told by other children on the ward that he doesn’t exist. What should I tell him?

A four-year-old patient has asked me whether Father Christmas exists. His parents say he believes in him but he has been told by other children on the ward that he doesn’t exist. What should I tell him?

Marc Cornock replies: While not wanting to cause any upset, for the purposes of this answer we will assume Father Christmas does not exist.

As a nurse, you are bound by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) code, which states that you must ‘act with honesty and integrity at all times’. This seems clear enough, and it would appear that it requires you to tell your patient that Father Christmas does not exist. But doing so will probably result in a disappointed, if not distraught, young child.

This is a perfect example of the horns of a dilemma: you do not want to extinguish the beliefs of a four year

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